After meeting up with TB we ate a delicious lamb dinner and then dropped by a pair of bars near the the Drum Tower and the Bell Tower, two landmarks known for sound-making--apparently having to do with noting the passage of time or sounding the alarm. I didn't take any photos of the towers, since it was dark, but here I am inside one of the bars (the atmosphere in both was laid back and kind of jazzy):
We eventually made our way to his pad, ina district called Haidian, on the nineteenth floor of onelarge building set amidst a slew of similar buildings. His flat is roughly comparable to mine, except he has a separate kitchen and laundry area--but I have a loft.
Fade up, Thursday: he leaves me with perfect instructions, translations, etc to get me to my activities for the day, and then goes to work. I have no problems, as the subway has pinyin translations and works much like the Seoul Metro. And it's like half-price. I make my way to Tiananmen-dong (the dong means east in both Korean and Chinese), look around at the National Flag, the Greae Hall of the People and such, then head across the street (via the underpass) to Tiananmen Plaza with the well-known enormous portrait of Chairman Mao.
Only, I aim a little to the left and enter something called Zhongshan Park, with a 3 yuan (40 cents or so) entrance fee, which is dedicated to Sun Yat Sen, a revolutionary hero usually regarded as the Father of modern China, for his three principles of "peace, freedom, and equality", for leading the revolt against the Qing dynasty, and for being--twice--the president of a more-or-less democratic Chinese republic.
Even at the marginal rate of an additional 2 yuan, the Sun Yat Sen Museum is kind of disappointing, it's main feature being the giant seated statue. In the top right display, note that though the pen and canes are real, the pistol and eating utensils are actually themselves photographs. The autopsy report is a special bonus.
However, the grounds, the park itself which occupies a large expanse west of Tiananmen/Forbidden City, is awesome, even in February. It's decorated with cypress trees, willows, bamboo, firs and evergreens, carefully tended and spaced among Karst-type limestones that lend an otherworldly feel to Mr. Sun's memorial.
Next, I went through Tiananmen Square, which mainly had hawkers, touts and booths selling crap that looked like this:
You go through this section, where I had a fine meal in the "fast food" restaurant of delicious beef, cabbage and rice for 20 yuan (4000 won) to reach the Forbidden City (30 yian). I'll guess this is one of the most photographed locales on the planet today, and leave you with this one:
I also went to the Temple of Heaven, somewhat south of the Tiananmen area. Later on, I met up with TB and we did some stuff, including eating Beijing Duck at an amazingly decrepit restaurant in some hard-to-find hutong, and I wrote my name on the wall in a cool little student bar in Tanner's neighborhood.
Incidentally, it rained gently but persistently all day long, but did I let that stop me? No. Slow me down? Well ... yeah.